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27 by photographer avatarAl_HikesAZ
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Pumphouse Wash (Lower)Sedona, AZ
Sedona, AZ
Canyoneering avatar Jun 05 2010
Canyoneering4.20 Miles 370 AEG
Canyoneering4.20 Miles
370 ft AEG
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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Nightmare on Pumphouse
It started as a beautiful day and a beautiful hike. It ended with Xrays and CAT Scans at the Sedona Emergency Room. Amazing how one little misstep can change everything.

Morel had spent a lot of time climbing at the Overlook when he was in Grad School at NAU but had never hiked Pumphouse. Today was a great opportunity.

We left Phoenix at 0500 and arrived at the parking at the Bridge a little after 0730.
Boulder hopping is slow and arduous. We arrived at the first pool and skirted it on the left. At the second pool we had no option but to wade. It was about chest deep.
We had to wade the next pool. it was about waist deep but longer so colder. The pools do seem to be evaporating.

We got to a wall. Two possibilities on the north(left) did not look particularly promising. I thought the south(right) looked like we could avoid the pool. But we had webbing, so we went right up the middle - up about an 8' wall. Morel scrambled up and tied the webbing. He lifted our packs. I used the webbing to get up. We straddled a couple of pools and stayed dry.

We avoided a long narrow pool by going to the south(right). Amazing to see how the water can "drill" perfectly round little tinajas in the rock and create incredible erosion patterns.

We kept going up the wash until we got to the "Lake". It was large and had fairly large fish - looked like a perch. This would have required a full swim. Morel remembered the saga of the Coconino Crocodile so we decided to eat lunch and head home.

We made good time going down wash. At the spot where we had climbed, we found a bypass on the south(left).

We waded the waist deep pool. I was not happy with the way my feet were slipping around in my Keen's and Hydrosocks so I changed into my boots. Morel continued with his Keens & Hydrosocks.

I was watching my footing when I noticed out of the corner of my eye that Morel was heading for the deck. His foot must have slipped on a boulder. Morel put his right hand out to brace himself, but it slid between two boulders - bending the middle fingers back at a 180degree angle and slicing the middle finger at the knuckle to the bone. Without his hand and arm to stop him, his head hit the boulder with a sickening thud.

I helped him over to the side into the shade and helped to get his pack off of him. He wanted his medkit so I figured I would use his kit and listen to him instead of hassling him by insisting on my medkit that I know.

By now his hand was bleeding profusely. And he was starting to get a little woozy. I feared he might lose consciousness - but he held on. I know and trust Morel so I did not bother with medical gloves - the bleeding was really bad and I had to stop it. I put a large gauze bandage on his middle fingers and wrapped medical tape around it tightly. It was not stopping the bleeding and the gauze was getting drenched. I wrapped another large gauze bandage around the first gauze bandage and wrapped it tightly and held it. The bleeding stopped. Morel was still woozy. He had a big bruise and bump on the right side of his head and scrapes on his left knee. Worst case scenarios started to flood my mind. He asked for two Advil so I gave those to him. He asked me to check his pupils. They appeared fine, actually a little small but in hindsight that was probably because of his sunglasses. His pupils started to dilate a little, probably because his sunglasses were now off, but he was tracking. He was starting to recover.

He rallied and insisted on carrying his pack. We started back to the truck. We got to a pool and tried to bypass on the south(left), not a good idea, we both called that off and managed to bypass on the north(right). We got to the chest deep pool and got through it fine. We heard climbers on the Overlook yell "Rock" - just what we needed now. It never made it to the bottom. We kept working our way to the Bridge and the Truck. It seemed so far. I was so glad to hear a motorcycle then we heard traffic and saw the bridge.

On our way down Oak Creek we stopped at the Fire Station by Garland's and an EMT checked out Morel. Morel seemed to be OK so the EMT gave us directions to an Urgent Care Clinic in West Sedona and to the Emergency Room at the Sedona Hospital.

We talked about it in the Truck and decided to go to the Emergency Room for a CAT Scan. We talked about Liam Neeson's wife and how she refused medical treatment then never woke up from her head injury.

We got to the Emergency Room and it was very efficient. They actually still had Morel in their computer system from some incidents from 20 years ago when he was at NAU and climbing and mountain biking. The nurses were great - friendly and very competent. They took Morel for Xrays and the CAT Scan.

Dr. Forrest Dean was excellent. He came in and let us know that the finger wasn't broken and the CAT Scan was negative. He started to clean and irrigate the finger and it started gushing again. Took 5 stitches.

We stopped at EuroDeli for a bite, but it was all EuroVeggie - not what we wanted. So we went to a little place with a Guinness Draught sign in the window - Keiser's - and found what we wanted.

I had considered taking my climbing helmet because of the boulder hopping but had decided against it. I figured I would be better in a broad brimmed hat in the sun and heat. Next time a hike has this much boulder hopping, I will likely wear the helmet. I am just enough of a klutz that the little extra margin of safety would do me good. Plus its bright orange color will look good on me in photos :)

Morel replayed the incident in his mind but could not think of anything he would have done differently. Overall he thinks careful wayfinding is key with "Every Step a Safe Step". He insists he will be back.

It ain't what you know, it's what you think of in time. I've been replaying my First Aid response. I did the right things and Morel was a great collaborator in his own First Aid. I've been thinking some worst case scenarios and how I would have handled them and what I need to be better prepared. I haven't certified in CPR in almost 20 years. I should probably take a refresher. The large gauze and tape was perfect. Bandaids would have been useless. I don't think I could have gotten a butterfly bandage to stick on the knuckle with all the blood, The wound was clean so I did not clean it, just worried about stopping the bleeding. He remained conscious and did not go into shock but I think I was prepared for that. Glad I'll never know.
Named place
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Pumphouse Wash
Anybody can make a hike harder. The real skill comes in making the hike easier.
Not if we can help it UNCLE JACK. Not if we can help it.
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